Tom Weingarten vividly remembers when he first faced Dobbs Ferry’s Eric Paschall in a preseason scrimmage during his senior year at John Jay-Cross River in winter 2011.
Weingarten didn’t know it then, but that would hardly be the last time he would be rub shoulders with future professional athletes and NBA players.
“Oh my God, he was the best; he was unbelievable,” Weingarten said of Paschall, a former NBA All-Rookie player who joined the Minnesota Timberwolves this summer.
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For the majority of his life, Weingarten aspired to be a college basketball coach and got involved with any opportunity he could to garner experience. He helped coach basketball and football at the high school level, started his own AAU basketball team, and worked with a company that placed him in a graduate assistant program after he finished at Iona College.
While it was all went smoothly, his mother implored him to get a summer internship.
“I just googled ‘sports internships’ because I didn’t have any other idea of what I wanted to do,” Weingarten said. “I immediately skipped to the 50th page, because I didn’t believe anyone on the first 49 pages would hire me. I figured they would all be the ESPNs, NBCs and all these different places. On the 50th page of Google, I saw a job had been posted for this startup company. I had no idea what it was. It actually wasn’t called Overtime at the time. It was actually called Tally. A couple years later, we changed the name to Overtime. I applied for this internship, not thinking anything of it.”
Today, Weingarten serves as the Head of Social Media for Overtime, a company that’s valued at over $500 million, according to its CEO Dan Porter, and has hundreds of employees. It soared in popularity with its sports highlight clips on social media.
Back then, Weingarten was the company’s fifth-ever employee, in charge of Overtime’s social media posts at a time when there were no examples to follow or competing styles to put mimic with an original twist.
“There was not a rubric or a playbook,” Overtime co-founder Zack Weiner said. “If you are good at following a playbook and a rubric, you were probably a good employee in your 20s, because you’re generally in a job that someone has done before and you have a manager that did it. That was not the situation he found himself in, and that’s not the situation Overtime found itself in. I would say that Tom embraced it. Everyone in the company really had to figure out something new, which is really one of the hardest things to do, but the reason Tom has been so successful in it is he’s very open to feedback.”
With Weingarten’s help and social media strategy, Overtime is no longer buried in the back pages of Google. It’s now at the forefront.
Overtime has amassed more than 65 million followers across various social media platforms.
“There was a lack of information and, quite frankly, a lack of experience on my end, which was actually my greatest strength,” Weingarten said. “I was given one job and that was to figure out what would a young sports fan want to see on a social media page. I actually purposely didn’t look at other accounts to see what they were doing. In the beginning, I just posted what I would like to see. I was a 20, 21-year old sports fan.
“Honestly, I kind of always was a high school sports fan and I was more successful off the field and off the court than I was on the field and on the court.”
Weingarten stuck with the company since his internship in 2015, and he was hired full-time after graduating college in 2016.
He found an untapped market in covering high school and street basketball games, posting highlights, then eventually putting the spotlight on athletes with large social media platforms.
There’s been plenty of milestone moments and precious memories made along the way, but it was he and Overtime’s coverage of Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball as budding viral sensations in high school that helped elevate the brand even further.
He initially tried to juggle both coaching and his duties as Overtime’s head of social media, but after a conversation with his former high school football coach, Jimmy Clark, he decided to go all in on his newfound love.
“(Clark) basically was like, ‘Do the other thing. You can always coach down the road if you really want to,'” Weingarten said. “I just kept asking to work more and more. I realized really early that the team there was (COO) Ali Nicolas, Dan Porter, the CEO, and Zack (Weiner) who’s the co-founder, and I was like, ‘Wow, these are the three smartest people I’ve ever met.’ I needed to keep doing work with them and figure out how to be involved with them.”
Weingarten remains proud of his Westchester roots, and continues to follow John Jay’s sports teams and watch film in his free time.
He’s also emerged as on-air talent for Overtime, with more than 200,000 followers on TikTok, and another 20,000 on Instagram.
Although Overtime started out as a social media platform for sports highlights, it has since expanded into other ventures, like Overtime Elite, which recruits and trains high school-aged basketball players and develops them in their own league.
Overtime pays them salaries starting at about $100,000 a year, provides academic instruction and gives them a cut of the merchandise and licensing revenue. If the players don’t get a professional contract, Overtime gives them $100,000 to attend the college of their choice.
It also debuted OT7, a new seven-on-seven football league. With a recently successful $100 million fundraiser, Overtime plans on further developing these leagues and growing some of its other ventures.
“It’s awesome, of course, to have such great people believe in us,” Weingarten said. “We’ve done a really cool job the first five years or so of the company, and now we need to continue to take the next step, continue to get better and kind of make sure that we’re progressing as big as we can possibly get.”
He has some advice for young athletes and teenagers.
“When it comes to athletes, don’t be so bogged down by what your career is going to be,” Weingarten said. “The most important thing is to find people you really like, respect and learn something from, then get in the door. I don’t think athletes necessarily know all the opportunities they have, so take all the opportunities you possibly can.
“The biggest thing for me is, work with people you really like. Especially with me, being in a startup, you’re going to work a ton of hours. Especially when you’re young, you’re going to grind it out. You’re going to have to do all these things, so do it with all these people you really like, respect and learn something from. It’s similar to a sports team. Thinking about it being like a team and thinking about the people you can work with is the most important thing. … Last thing I’d say is, have fun with everything. Nothing is that serious, and I think you want to enjoy every single second of it.”
Follow Eugene Rapay on Twitter at @erapay5 and on Instagram at @byeugenerapay.